Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Homeschool Crew Review: Home School Navigator

Home School Navigator
Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to use and review a brand new language arts curriculum from Home School Navigator.  I have been exploring the Red and Green levels along with the interactive notebooks for the blue level.  There is a lot to discuss with Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum, so stay with me this review may get a little long!
Home School Navigator

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum is an online language arts curriculum for elementary aged students that teaches reading, writing, word study, grammar, and vocabulary using books, videos, and printable worksheets.  There are 6 different levels that are color coded and based on skill level not grade level.

Red is for students who are starting to learn letter recognition.

Orange is for students who are beginning to write and can read simple words and sentences.

Yellow for students who can write simple sentences and can read short stories.

Green is for students who can read short chapter books and write longer passages.

Blue is for students reading chapter books and writing paragraphs.

Indigo is for students able to write longer works using paragraphs and reading longer chapter books.

Lessons are set up for a 36 week school year.  All of the planning is done for the teacher.  All you need to do is print the worksheets out for your students and gather the books if you have access to a good library.  Home School Navigator uses a lot of different books for their lessons.  They recognize that some people (like me) will not have access to a library that will have all of the books available so they provide links to YouTube videos of the books being read aloud so your child will be able to complete the assignments even if they cannot get the books.

Once you create a parent account, you create user names and passwords for each of the children who are using the program.  You have to log in through the parent account and then log in the child.

Once they are logged in you are taken to a page showing all of the weeks in the level.

You choose the week you are on and it shows each day of that week.  It shows how many assignments are shown for each day.  You do not have to complete all of the assignments, you can pick and choose.

When you click on the drop down for each section it gives you the assignment, has the video (if there is one) and tells what worksheets you have to complete.

When you finish that day's assignments you can either upload photos of your child's work to submit to an online portfolio or you can check a box that you have completed the lesson.

You can then log out that child from the dashboard and log in your next child, or the parent can log out of Home School Navigator completely.

Within each level is a Master Book list that breaks down what books are used by level and by month that you can print out.  At the beginning of each week there is a Weekly Guide for the teacher that you can print out or read from your screen showing which books are being used, what materials you will need  and what the assignments will be for each section.  There is also a section that allows you to print out all of the handouts that you will need by month.

Supplies you will need to use Home School Navigator will vary.  Besides access to a computer or other electronic device and a way to print the worksheets you will need some basic school supplies such as pens, paper, glue, tape, and a 3 ring binder to hold your papers.  You will also need something like a composition notebook to do the interactive notebook studies and you may want one for your Writer's Notebook.  For some activities you will need some special supplies.  For example one of Lily's activities was to make craters using flour, cocoa, and different size balls.

My main user for Home School Navigator was Lily.  She is in third grade and a very strong reader but not a strong writer so I decided to start her at the beginning of the Green Level.  We have a 4 day a week homeschool schedule but even though they schedule 5 days a week often the last day is a catch up day so that worked great with our schedule and on the weeks where it wasn't a catch up day we combined or rearranged to make it work.

We live in a very small town with a very small library.  Our library had none of the books for the first two months.  Inter-library Loan is not a good option either because yo never know how long it will take to get the books in and we have to pay to ship them back. This was disappointing to Lily because she is a reader and wanted to have the books in hand, but I appreciate that Home School Navigator includes the links for the books being read for those of us who cannot get the books. The main sections for her lessons included :

Read Aloud
Phonics/Word Study/Vocabulary
Independent Reading
Understanding Reading Skills and Strategies
Poetry Extension

The Read Aloud section just lists the book that you are focusing on.  The link to the YouTube video is included in the Literature Section along with any assignments or the video that teaches the lesson.  Writing/Grammar has directions to write in your writers notebook or gives the instruction for the grammar assignment. Phonics/Study/Vocabulary has a worksheet to complete.  The Handwriting section sometimes has a specific assignment or suggestions for practicing handwriting, many of Lily's were optional cursive writing practice.   Independent Reading reminds you to read for 30 minutes from your Just Right Book (a book your child chooses to read on their own there is a video on choosing these books) and will sometimes have an assignment in that book.  The Poetry Extension gives you the title of a suggested poem and author but you have to find the poem on your own due to copyright laws they cannot include them.  They are easily found online. There is an activity related to the poem.

Lily's first month started with Fairy Tales which she loved.  We had an opportunity to listen to several stories we had never heard before and compared and contrasted them.  We learned about different elements of fairy tales, how to write a paragraph using a paragraph sandwich, banishing boring verbs, and more.  In our second month we started listening to books by Patricia Polacco and learned about adjectives, contractions, word attack strategies, plot, and more.

I started Emmie at the beginning of the Red Level.  She is 7 and reading short stories but has not done much at all with language arts so I started her a level down.  We did not do the writing activities, instead she used her handwriting book. She was under the weather when we first got this review so she started later then Lily. We started with circular stories like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Dog a Donut, etc... I was able to find a few of these at the library, but she enjoyed watching the videos of the stories being read.  She loved the activity where she was creating her own circular story.  She wrote and illustrated a several of those!

Anthony and Christian worked on the interactive notebook for the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret which was included in month 2 of the blue level.  I chose this book for their study because we had never read it before and I knew they would be interested in reading it.  The book study book is not read aloud so you will have to get a copy of the book in order to complete the study.  While the books chosen for the lessons are picture books that are under the reading level of the child, the interactive notebook books are at the reading level for the child.  The notebook is available as a PDF download that you print.  Answer keys are included in the back.  To complete the notebook your child will need something to glue it in such as a composition notebook, glue, scissors, pen or pencil, dictionary and thesaurus.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret interactive notebook download is 16 pages long.  Each page in the study tells you where the questions will come from such as chapters 3-5, 6-8, etc.. There is a variety of things the children will do such as define words, give examples of foreshadowing, make predictions, list character traits, answer questions, find similes, and more.  For each section of the book there are 2-4 activities to cover in the interactive notebook.

The boys loved the book.  I thought the activities in the interactive notebook were age and appropriate and did a great job having the boys look for insights without doing so many activities that it would make them loose the enjoyment of reading the book.  They thought the notebook was a lot better then having to write a book report.  We will definitely be doing more of these.

Overall I was very impressed with Home School Navigator!  I loved the book choices.  We had a chance to read some of our favorites again but we also read several stories we have never heard of that were fantastic. I think using picture books to teach the concepts is a wonderful idea. I loved that they provided the links for them being read aloud because without those I would not have been able to use the curriculum.  I thought the activities that went along with the lessons were great and well though out. The program is very flexible.  You do not have to complete all of the activities for each day, you can customize so it works for you.

There were some sound issues on some of the teaching videos.  Even with the sound all the way up, it was very hard to hear.  Also I wish they would zoom in more on some of those videos and focus on what they are talking about rather then keeping it a wide shot with the teacher in the video.  I wish that were true in the read aloud videos too.  The shot is wide with the teacher in the video looking at the page as she is holding it.  I wish they would focus completely on the pages of the book while they are reading (maybe placing it flat on a table) as sometimes it is hard to see and appreciate the illustrations.  I wish that instead of having the worksheets available to print out by the month that they would have them available to print out by the week. You can print them by going into each daily activity if there are some activities that you will choose to skip.  There is a lot of printing with Home School Navigator, especially if you are using it with multiple students.  I wish the log in was different.  I would rather have a way to be able to log the children in without needing to go through the parent account.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Homeschool Crew Review: T is for Tree: A Bible ABC

Reformed Free Publishing Association
We recently had an opportunity to read and review a sweet alphabet book, T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association.
T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
Reformed Free Publishing Association was founded in 1924 and is a private non profit organization dedicated to "witnessing to the distinctive reformed truth." They publish bible study guides, devotionals, commentaries, theology and more.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is geared for ages 3-6, but it can be used with children a little bit older or younger.  It is designed for an adult to read to a child. It is a 32 page hardcover book.  Each page focuses on one letter of the alphabet.  The entire page is illustrated.  In the top corner is has the letter and what it stands for such as "A is for Ant."  Next there is a little rhyming saying, "Though weak and small in size, They gather food all summer. May God make us as wise."  Then at the bottom of each page there is a Bible verse related to the topic on the page along with the Scripture reference.  The Scripture passages use the King James version. For the "A" page the Scripture is Proverbs 30:24-25 "There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise;the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in summer."

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
I read this book with my 7 year old.  Even though she already knows her alphabet we still enjoyed reading this delightful ABC book together.  The illustrations are beautiful.  I love that they cover the entire page and even though they are colorful the colors are toned down and not at all overwhelming to look at.  In addition to the main illustration in the middle of the page there are beautiful illustrated frames around each picture. Emmie's favorite part of the book were the illustrations.  The rhyming sayings for each letter are easy for young children to learn and remember.  For the letter "x" the theme is "X is in Foxes."  I thought that was well done.  X can be a tricky letter in an ABC book.  I love that a Bible verse is included on every page and is related to the theme of each page.  

T is For Tree: A Bible ABC is a great book that can be used a variety of ways for different ages and situations. For very young children you can start by reading the letter and what it stands for. Or  you can read the letter, what it stands for and the rhyme.  For those a bit older you can read the entire page including the Bible verse.  You can use it as a Bible study and have your child memorize the verse that goes with each letter.  If you do not usually use the King James version you can look up the verse in the version your family does use. This book could also be used to as a springboard for a more in depth preschool curriculum by reading and studying a letter per week based on the theme for the letter in the book.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter

Book Description

"After Brady Collins’ ex-wife dies, he receives devastating news—his nine-month-old son Sam isn’t his son at all. And Sam’s wealthy maternal grandparents want custody of the child. Brady knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But regardless of what any blood test says, Sam is his son, and Brady will go to any lengths to keep him.
Brady’s attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiance.
Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and after a happy accident she’s finally offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.
As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find."

Honeysuckle Dreams is the second book in the Blue Ridge series.  The first book, Blue Ridge Sunrise, was Zoe and Cruz's story.  Honeysuckle Dreams is Brady's (Zoe's brother) and Hope's (Zoe's best friend) story.  These types of books can be read as stand alone novels, but to get the whole story about all of the character it is better if you read the entire series.  Ms. Hunter does a wonderful job writing Christian romance stories.  Her stories are very romancy but not inappropriate and have many elements of faith woven in.  Her characters are well developed and believable and her stories carry an inspirational message. If you have read Denise Hunters other books, many elements of this story will seem familiar to you.  This book reminded me of a mixture of several of her other stories such as, The Convenient Groom, Dancing with Fireflies, Barefoot Summer, The Wishing House.  I enjoyed reading Brady and Hope's story and look forward to the third book, On Magnolia Lane which is expected to be released in November.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to the FTC regulations.

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 34

Only one week left in out regular school year!  Then we will take a little time off from school and then we will be working on  reading, math, and some reviews over the summer a few days a week, less then an hour per day, usually during late afternoon when it is the hottest part of the day. We just got a very good Art Appreciation curriculum called The Master and His Apprentice to review and I have Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 coming this week.  Piano will continue all summer and we have several 4 H activities going on this summer.

Activities this Week:

Monday was my Mother's Day with Chelsea and Liam.  Chelsea is off on Mondays so we skipped school to spend some time with them.  We introduced Liam to the sandbox, he was pretty impressed.

The girls had gymnastics Monday afternoon.  Only one week left until we break for the summer.

Tuesday was our wedding anniversary.

Thursday we helped set up for the piano recital and Lily had a piano lesson.

Friday we went back and helped to decorate for the recital. Then we ran errands.  That night was the recital.  Lily did a great job!  For this recital they had to play a piece of music by memory.  It was a late night. I didn't get the girls to bed until 10.

Saturday morning I had to wake them up for a ballet make-up.  After that Art and I went to Texarkana for the day alone!  We went out to lunch and did some shopping.  We had not been anywhere without the children since December.

Week 34 in our Homeschool

As our year has been coming to a close we have finished up a few things and I have decided we were in a good stopping place for a few more things so our work load has gotten a bit lighter.

Bible: We completed 6 lessons in Answers for Kids Vol 3.


Music Appreciation: We completed lesson 12 on The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Science: We finished reading chapter 5 on nutrition.  We will finish up the activities for the chapter next week.  I was thinking about continuing this curriculum through the summer because we have not done as much science this year as we usually do but I think we will set it aside and pick it back up in August.

Art: We wove different beasts together for our ARTistic Pursuits lesson.

Math: Lily, Christian, and Emmie completed 3 lessons in MLFLE.  Anthony started Pre-Algebra from the Critical Thinking Company and completed Chapter One.  Alex started Math U See Pre-Algebra.  We did not finish Pre-Algebra with UnLock Math before his subscription ran out and honestly he wasn't really getting it anyway.  I started him at the beginning of MUS Pre-Algebra and hope that at least the first few chapters will be easy and he will be able to work through them easily.

Language Arts: The boys finished their book study on Hugo Cabret.  Lily did activities based on the book Meteor by Patricia Polacco.  Emmie's story was The Napping House.

Spelling/Reading: The boys are finished with spelling until the fall.  Emmie has completed All About Spelling Level One!  I bought her Explode the Code Book One and she has been working in that some this week.  She will have to read aloud to me over the summer before we start AAR Level 2 in August.

I saw her reading to Marshmallow one day and took this from a distance so she wouldn't see me.

We have a really mean rooster.  Really mean.  I think he has to go but Christian is very attached to him.  He attacks everyone else except Christian.  As long as he is willing to grab the eggs and take care of them he can stay, but if that thing attacks anyone again....

I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Homeschool Crew Review: PandaParents


PandaParents is releasing a brand new product called MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS. We received a 3 months of a 6 month digital subscription to use and review.
Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum
I know that MESSYLEARNING does not sound like a good thing, but it doesn't mean what you think it does. MESSY stands for:

Mixed Pre-school Subjects
Engaging Questions and Activities
Simple 1-2-3 Steps
Smart Designs
Yeah, a new way to promote STEM education and early brain growth

Each unit of MESSYLEARNING is designed to be used 2/3 days a week for 30-60 minutes a day.  There are three components to each unit: a storybook, video, and workbook.  The storybooks are designed for a parent to read aloud to child.  Then they can watch the corresponding video and complete the workbooks pages.  The workbooks have a variety of activities including a craft. Each month revolves around a different theme and teaches a variety of subjects through that theme.  For example The Scotty Skunk curriculum focuses on the letters "s and h," teaches sequences and numbers, science and nature, feelings, and home and safety. The three months we received were:

A Jolly Jingling Journey- Davy falls asleep and goes on a magical journey to Santa's cabin in the North Pole. The PDF version of the story was 50 pages, the workbook was 40 pages and the two videos totaled about 40 minutes.

Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound-Little Muffin's mommy tells him a story about a skunk finding a new home.  The PDF version of this story was 40 pages, the workbook was 50 pages and the video was 32 minutes.

Mommy's Baby-It's bedtime but Amanda is not tired.  She and her mommy play a mommy baby game before bed.  "Are you mommy's muffin? I am your blueberry muffin."  The storybook is 30 pages long, the video is 5 minutes long, and the workbook is 40 pages long.

PandaParents is recommended for ages 3-6.  I think it will work better for preschoolers then kindergarten but that will vary depending on the child.  The basic idea for the curriculum is a good one, teaching many different things at one time using a centralized theme.  There is no teacher instruction so how you use the curriculum and how much you do every day will be up to you.  I thought the workbook had some good activities.  I liked the way they had some science oriented activities in each of the workbooks like in the Mommy's Baby workbook there is a section on different types of animal tails. The craft ideas at the end of the workbooks are simple and easy to put together.

There is A LOT of color in the workbook pages and story.  I think a physical workbook would be a better option then a PDF.  The story we just read off the screen because it would be expensive to print but if you do not want to have to depend on having a screen to learn a physical book would be a better option.  The company is supposed to be releasing a physical product in December. The video length really varied.  One of ours was only 5 minutes and another was over 30.  The 30 minute video was too long in my opinion.  The drawings, animation, and voices were very different then what we are used to and were not our taste but others may enjoy it.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Homeschool Crew Review: Kids Email

Kids Email
Kids need to learn how to communicate using technology. Email can be a great way for children to communicate with friends and family that live far away, but it can be dangerous to allow children to have their own email and use the computer.  Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to use and review Kids Email Safe Email for Kids from Kids Email.
Kids Email

This is not my first time to review Kids Email.  We reviewed for this company back in 2016.  I was impressed with it then and my opinion has not changed.  Kids Email has some great features that makes it a great option for your children.

While your children will have their own email address with Kids Email, there are a lot of parent controls.  Parents set up the email addressed for their children.  Younger children will have a kidsemail.org address and older children will have a kmail.org.  Parents can set up a variety of safety settings including a contacts list.  Only the people listed on the contacts list can send emails to your children and your children can only send emails to them. You can set up the account so that copies of all of the emails are sent to your own inbox.  You can also block images in the emails and not allow attachments.  Parents can set up time limits and block senders. Children cannot change their settings, only parents can do that. One of the best parts is that NO ADS ARE ALLOWED!  Your child will never see advertisements of any kind on their email page.  Also spam messages are automatically filtered out so you do not need to worry at all about an inappropriate email sneaking through.

Each child's dashboard can be personalized.  There are several background choices that will appeal to boys and girls and others that will appeal to boys or girls.  There are some that will appeal to younger children and others that older children will appreciate.

There is a drawing board icon that allows children to draw pictures within their emails.  My 7 year old loves to do this!  She has done some on the computer but it is easier on my phone.

There is also a way to attach photos to an email.  You can use a photo that already has been taken or take a photo within the app and attach it.  My 9 year old had drawn a picture that she wanted to send to my parents so she took a photo of it on my iPhone and emailed it.My mom then printed it out and put it on her fridge.

For younger users there is a Read to Me icon that will read the emails they have been sent.  This is a great feature to allow children to read their emails without waiting for someone to come and do it for them.

We do not do a lot of communicating by email, but it is a great way to stay in touch with those who do not live close by.  Emmie especially has enjoyed being able to draw her pictures and send them off to my mom and dad, and her Aunt Kelly.  She has loved getting emails back. Kids Email really takes the worry out of allowing your children to use email.

Kids Email offers a 30 day free trial.  You do not have to enter credit card information to take advantage of the free trial. Check it out for yourself!

Other member of The Crew reviewed Kids Email.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 33

Happy Mother's Day!  I love being a mom and am so thankful that God blessed me with my wonderful children!

 First bloom on one of my rose bushes.

I do not like walking in tall grass, mostly because I am afraid of snakes.  I never even used to like seeing snakes at all even if they were behind glass, but children that are fascinated by reptiles caused me to have to get over that.  I still however do not like to see them outside.  At all.  Anyway, the other day I noticed an issue with a rabbit cage and the boys had not done any weed eating around there yet.  So I put on my rubber garden shoes and went out to take care of it.  The whole time I was thinking Please do not let me see a snake.  I completed my task and went inside.  About an hour later Nick went out to weed eat and about 10 steps from where I had been standing was a Copperhead! They took care of it.  We have only seen 2 others in our yard in the 11 years we have lived here and I hope to never see another one.  I told Art later that I realized I should have been praying please son't let there be a snake but if there is a snake, please let me see it! 


Week 33 in our Homeschool

We had a hard time concentrating on school work this week, I think our brains our on summer vacation already!

Bible: We read several lessons in Answers for Kids Vol 3.  I usually do 2 questions or so a day and read the corresponding Scripture.

History:  We read chapters 18, 19, and 20 in America's Story Vol 2 on Alexander Graham Bell and Helen Keller.  We also watched some Youtube videos on Helen Keller.

Music Appreciation: We completed lesson 11 on Tchaikovsky's The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Science: We started Chapter 5 on Nutrition.  One of our activities was to test different foods for starch using Iodine.

Art: We made woven crowns for our ARTistic Pursuits Art of the Middle Ages lesson.

Math: They completed 3 lessons in MLFLE.

Language Arts: Emmie's stories were If You Give a Dog a Donut and If You Give a Cat a Cupcake.  Lily's lessons were on the Rough Faced Girl and Christian and Anthony are working through their book study on Hugo Cabret.

Emmie's own circular story.

Spelling/Reading: The boys completed Step 17 of AAS Level 5.  Emmie completed lesson 52 in AAR Level One.  Only one lesson to go!  She just started picking up books on her own to read on her own this week.  She was reading Go Dog Go to Liam the other day.
 He didn't sit long enough though...

Other Activities this Week:

Monday the girls had gymnastics.

Tuesday was Chelsea's last day of college for the semester. 

I just love snuggling sleeping babies.

Thursday Lily had piano and then we had our 4 H meeting.

Then we left to go camping!

Camping is A LOT of work, but we do enjoy going.  I sent a text to a friend that said, "All of this relaxing is exhausting!"  We went to Kirby Landing.  It was our first time camping there and it was very nice.  We will be going back again.  The lake water was COLD!  Not that I swim.  I lifeguard from the shore.  But they could only stay in 30 minutes or so the first day we were there before lips were blue and teeth were chattering.  By Saturday they could stay in about an hour.  It was a very nice week-end around 90 each day.

Our site was right on the lake and close to the swim beach.  The children could ride bikes around the circle.  We had to drive to the playground, but I'd rather do that then drive back and forth to the beach all day.

This is a house.  My iPhone could not zoom in far enough to get a good picture of it.

It took them 3 nights to finish their Monopoly game.
 The children were feeding the fish at the marina.

Emmie's big fish.  She ate him for supper.
 The top fish was Art's.  The bottom one was mine.  Biggest fish I've ever caught.  They also got eaten.

 The boys brought a football to play catch at the playground.

Emmie asked me if she could decorate the picnic table with some flowers she picked.  I left them there until we left.

Christian thought he had a big fish but it was a turtle.
 Al cut him free and threw him back.  Art and I caught turtles too.
The children saw this sign and just had to check out the  trail.

 They loved the bridge!

I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!